Friday, August 22, 2008

Holly's Engagement Photos

If you know much about me, you know I LOVE taking photos! My niece Holly asked me to take engagement photos of her and her finace' Michael. I think they turned out pretty well if I do say so myself! Selective Colorization used in this photo..... holly-michael-yellow-and-blue.jpg I thought this photo looked really cheesy when we were taking it but it actually turned out to be one of my favorites! dscf0036_alt.jpg This one is one of Holly's favorites. dscf0018.jpg This one is really cute too. back2back.jpg Holly striking a pose with the tree. holly_yellow.jpg And a graphic collage I made with some of the photos..... god-bless-the-broken-road.jpg That's just a few of my faves. I think I took about 65! I love digital photography - no wasting film!! Whatcha think?!? (Photos orginally taken in March of 08)

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Writings

I love to write. I have always enjoyed writing, whether it was in a journal, a story, or a poem. I guess I just never realized that it was good enough to share with people or even publish. I really started writing a lot after I placed my son Charlie for adoption. Before that, I wrote off and on writing occasional poems or journal entries about being the mother of a child with special needs, but becoming a birthmother is what helped me find a writing voice and gain confidence in writing. Now that I have found that writing voice, I've realized that the world is pretty open to me. I can write and actually get paid for it! I am not limited to writing only about adoption. I can write about anything and everything I want. And sometimes, the writing is just for me. I get something out of it regardless of whether or not anyone else does while other times my purpose in writing is to inspire or inform others. And other times, it's writing that I share whether it be on this blog or an actual article that I'm getting paid to write. For those of you who wish to read more of what I have written, I thought I'd post links to various articles, poems, and essays here on this page. I'll break things up by categories where appropriate. NOTE: This page and list is a work in progress. I'll be adding to it because unless I stop writing all together, there will always be new content! Where I Write: Here (Of course :) ) Busy Mommy (Special Needs Editor) Adoption Blogs (I write in the open adoption blog, crisis pregnancy blog, and occasionally the adoption news blog.) Poetry about Noah: Mama Knows Noah's Prayer Adoption Related Poetry: Visiting Special Needs Articles: What is Cerebral Palsy? Wheelchair Friendly Ameusement Parks Jenny McCarthy's Book on Autism: A Great Resource Misc.Quotes for Mothers Out of the Box Wedding Gift Ideas Reality TV: How Far is too Far? For Those who Love John and Kate plus Eight

Reviews: Cock of the Walk in Ridgeland, Mississippi: Amazing Catfish No Way Jose's in Pigeon Forge, TN: Awesome Tex Mex Food

Cerebral Palsy Information

I've noticed lately that people have been coming to this blog using the search engine tag "children with cerebral palsy" or something to that effect. I thought it would be good to create a page here for those people so that you can easily find out information about cerebral palsy as well as how it affects my son.

But first a little disclaimer… I am attempting to put what I have learned about cerebral palsy over the years into laymen’s terms but please keep in mind that I am not a doctor, a nurse, or a trained professional who deals with cerebral palsy. I’m simply a mother wanting to educate others about her son's condition. For more information on cerebral palsy, please see the "CP Links" section at the bottom of this page.

What is Cerebral Palsy? (I will refer to Cerebral Palsy as CP from now on.) CP is a condition caused by injury to the brain resulting in loss of oxygen right before, during, or after birth. More and more often, CP is being linked to negligence on the medical professionals part. It can often be very common in premature babies as well.

What are the effects of CP? CP affects each person differently. It can affect their speech, motor control, ability to walk, and the ability to do everyday things - even eating! It can affect their whole body or it can affect just certain aspects of their functioning.
How many children have CP? According to UCP, about 8,000 babies/children are diagnosed with CP each year.
Does the condition get worse over time? No! CP is considered a "static" condition - meaning it does not get worse. With therapy and hard work, people with CP can overcome their obstacles.
Since each child with CP is different, I thought I would take a moment and walk you through how CP has affected Noah. Eager to see the world, Noah arrived 6 weeks early weighing 4 lbs and 12 oz. After I was given the epidural, he lost oxygen which resulted in CP. We did not know he had CP at the time. After an attorney did an investigation as to what caused the CP, I firmly believe that Noah's CP is the result of  my reaction to the epidural and the doctors not responding quick enough to that reaction. 
Noah was a happy baby, but we did begin to notice that he was not on target with some of his milestones. At about 8 months old, a CT scan was done and it was then determined that Noah did have CP. Noah had surgery at Shriner's Children's Hospital in November of 2002 to lengthen his heel cords and to put steel plates in his hips. It was a long process - he was in a cast from the waist down for a month and then in "boot" casts from the knees down for another month. The surgery has helped some and Noah is able to walk short distances in a walker.
Noah's speech is also delayed by CP - although he comprehends and understands so much! He is now communicating with sign language and a communication device. Noah goes to a very good local school for children with special needs. He is in a class room setting, but receives occupational, physical, and speech therapy and learns life skills at school as well. He is doing well in school and enjoys school - especially riding on the school bus!  Noah continues to amaze us with his zest and love of life. Noah is a very happy and loving boy who enjoys making others smile and laugh by doing silly little things. He plays Miracle League baseball (baseball program for children with special needs), loves the Clemson tigers, and enjoys reading and going places.  He is a curious learner and a bit of dare devil at times - especially when it comes to roller coasters.  People have asked me if I wonder what Noah's life would be like if he did not have CP, but that is hard for me to imagine. 

Noah is who he is - CP and all.

Cerebral Palsy Links:
UCP Support Community for Parents of Children with CP

Links to things I have written regarding CP: 
Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month
What Do You Call Someone with a Disability? 
Defining Noah

More About Me

More About Me

As you probably read in my blurb, my name is Nicole but most of my friends call me Coley, so you can call me Coley too. :) I'm a thirty something southern gal. I am sensitive yet passionate, simple yet complicated, loving yet defiant, dependent on others yet independent. I have big dreams yet realistic goals. I wish I could "save the world like I was super girl." I am a people person, I like to shake things up and make things happen!

I am Super Mom to Noah, Birth Mom to Charlie, wife to J, angel Mom to Darcy, friend, sister, daughter, aunt, Christian, neighbor, confidant, writer..... I wear many hats!
Hobbies and Work

I'm a work at home writer - yep that means I can work in my jammies if I want to! I love words and I love to write so when writing for a living fell in my lap, I jumped at the opportunity and soon discovered that I was really good at it! I began writing about adoption professionally at AdoptionBlogs three years ago and was solely writing about open adoption and unplanned pregnancies but over time I have added other paid writing gigs to my resume about a variety of different topics.  

I'm also proud to be one of the founders and the director of BirthMom Buds, an organization that provides support to birthmothers and pregnant women considering adoption.

Since I write a lot for a living, this blog was born out of the need to write about personal things that I don't write about in articles as well as way to share photos and keep out of town friends and family up to date on what's going on in our lives. 

I'm a very creative person and love crafting and digital scrapbooking. I'm also very into photography and am always pushing myself to try new things with my photos. If you look around my blog long, you'll notice that my favorite subject is my son, Noah, and that my favorite type of photo is a black and white photo with selective colorization (meaning one part of the photo is in color). This year I'm participating in "Project 365" where I'm taking a photo a day so you'll find lots of posts labeled "Project 365" on this blog. 

My Hubby, J

I really believe that everyone has a soul mate. Sometimes they meet in high school, other times not until later in their lives, and sadly sometimes not at all. It was a broken road to find my soul mate but luckily I met J in 2001. We began dating seriously after awhile and I knew he was the one after seeing his gentle ways with Noah and his nephews. He loves children and is very good with them. We tied the knot on April 19th, 2003 in front of our family, friends, and 1200 other fans right before a minor league baseball game. J is a a video game playing, Clemson football fanatic and a very good listener, provider, husband, and father. I really am lucky!
My Kids
Of all the hats I wear, the most important hat I wear is that of “mother.” Being a mother is one of the most rewarding yet exhausting and challenging roles I have ever had. Being a Mom is very important to me - I am the mother of 3 children, who each have a very different story and all hold a special place in my heart, no matter where they are!


Noah is currently 12 years old. He was named after “the man God loved so much he gave us rainbows,” so I often call Noah my rainbow. He really is the center of my life. Noah is your typical 12 year old – he loves big dogs, the color blue, t-ball, and roller coasters just like many other 12 year olds. But Noah is special – he has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Noah was diagnosed with cerebral palsy around the time he was 8 months old. A wheelchair is his main mode of transportation and you’d better watch out – he’s fast and will run you over! Sign language is Noah’s main form of communication although he can hear just fine. It’s challenging being the Mom of a child with special needs but rewarding all at the same time!

Charlie is currently 7 years old. When I got pregnant with Charlie due to a failed depo (birth control) shot, I was not ready to parent again. I chose to make an adoption plan for Charlie and placed him with a wonderful family. Our adoption is very open, which means I get pictures, phone calls, visits, etc... He knows that I am his birthmom and that Noah is his birth brother. We are basically like extended family. His adoptive mom was even a bridesmaid in our wedding! To read my adoption story in its entirety, please visit the Founders Page at BirthMom Buds.
Darcy is our little angel! Darcy never made it to earth - God decided our baby should become an angel before making an earthly entrance. Even though Darcy never took a breath, she was a part of me and always will be. Darcy's short life and death have affected my life so much. To learn more about Darcy, please visit Darcy's Memorial Page.

And now you know LOTS about me!!!
If you need to contact me, please do so by emailing me at coleybelle(at)gmail(dot)com!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Strawberry Vinaigrette

strawberry.jpgWhen I was at the church retreat in March with my Mom, one night for dinner we had salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. The dressing was REALLY good. I'd never had raspberry vinaigrette before. Not too long after that, my friend Kami and I were discussing foods we can and can not eat. (She's diabetic and I am limited as to what I can eat because of my ulcer.) So, anyways she told me she had a great recipe for strawberry vinaigrette dressing. Today, I started thinking about the raspberry dressing and called Kami up for the recipe. I used strawberry jam but you can use raspberry jam, blackberry jam - whatever you want! I want to try it with orange marmalade or maybe even some pineapple and then make the salad have a little Asian flair with some slivered almonds and chicken. And although, I served this with salad, I think it'd be awesome drizzled over some angel food cake with fresh strawberries. YUM! I had leftovers, so I just poured it in a jar and put it in the fridge. Here's the recipe - if you try it, I want to know about it!
Strawberry Vinaigrette: 1/3 cup strawberry jam (I used the sugar free kind.) 1/2 cup red wine vinegar (could also use balsamic vinegar here I think) 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 tsp. of salt (you may have to add a little more salt depending on how salty you like your food) Whisk it all together for a few minutes or pulse it in the food processor.
Now, I made a few slight changes to my liking. I added a little more jam, I probably added a little over 1/2 cup of jam total to make it a little thicker and to make it less sour. When I make it again, I think I am going to try it with balsamic vinegar instead of the red whine.

Scripture Survival Kit

I made a "Scripture Survival Kit" for my secret sister at church. It turned out very cute and was very simple!!

In case you can't read the tag, it says:

Scripture Survival Kit Toothpick: To remind you to pick out the good qualities in others. Matthew 7:1

Rubber band: To remind you to be flexible. Things might not always go the way you want, but it will work out. Romans 8:28

Band aid: To remind you to heal hurt feelings, yours or someone else's. Colossians 3:12-14 Pencil: To remind you to list your blessings everyday. Ephesians 1:3

Peppermint: To remind you that you are worth a mint. John 3:16-17

Button: To remind you to button your lip when needed. 1 Peter 3:10 Lifesavers: To remind you that the Lord is there to help. Psalm 46:1

Puzzle piece: To remind you that without God weare not complete. Prov. 14:20

I usually don't mind letting people use my tags, just so long they do it with my permission. Feel free to email me at coleybelle(at)gmail(dot)com.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Digital Scrapbooking Take 2

I've picked up digi scrapbooking again! I actually started about three years ago when I was working on a project that I wanted to finish quickly. I then decided that I liked digi scrapbooking better than traditional scrapbooking. It's so much easier on me because I don't have to drag out a ton of things only to be interrupted ten minutes later and have to put everything away. With digi scrapping, I just hit save and come back to it when I can. Then last year, when I had major computer problems I lost some of my programs but lately I've really felt the urge and need to scrap, so I took advantage of some of the many freebies in cyberspace. 

When I started back up this go 'round and was looking at all the digi scrapbooking stuff on the net, I became a bit frustrated at first because everything had flowers or other girlie elements and I have a boy. But then I came to the conclusion that this is our family album, not an album soley for Noah, so the flowers and girlie elements (which I love!) are ok.

So, here's my first page in forever. Whatcha think?

Best Things in Life aren't Things

Credits: Paper: Sunshine Days Paper Pack by Silver Rocket Scraps Frame, Ribbon, and Flower: Grape Crush Elements by A Work in Progress